It is sometimes possible to re-open prior disability claims as part of a new claim filing, if a medical condition has been ongoing. You cannot count on Social Security to do this automatically. Our office may accomplish this for a client, and gain many months or even years of past due benefits. The evidence must support the earlier period, but unrepresented claimants may have earlier claims that were denied simply because they were missing significant medical records.
Sometimes Social Security will say that it is too late to reinstate old claims. But here are technical legal grounds for re-opening claims even when the time limit has passed. These include submitting new medical evidence from the past time frame, or finding that the notice of denial was unclear or misleading.
Examining past applications is one of the most important things that we do in evaluating your client’s case. It can sometimes take months of work to prod Social Security to locate an old claim file. These files are essential to determine the basis of the previous denial. New electronic files maintained by Social Security may speed this process.
This past due benefits question is the issue most often missed by inexperienced advocates. If a case is granted quickly, a claimant may be misled into thinking all possible benefits are being paid. Actually there may be years of past due benefits that are being left unexplored.